New research shows that while people tend to avoid saying hello to strangers, when they do say hello, they are happier for it. Read this nice article in the New York Times which describes the research.
I add this article to this blog on learning, because it reminded me that we in the learning field often put too much trust on our learners. The bottom line is that learners often don't know how best to learn.
This means that we shouldn't willy-nilly design our learning to enable our learners to do anything they want to. Sometimes this can be beneficial because it gives learners a sense of autonomy and it can help them get information they need–but more often than not, it enables learners to make bad decisions about their own learning.
The article also reminded me about research on creativity which shows that domain spanners–people who spend time interacting with others outside their main area of interest are often more creative because they draw from other spheres of thought. It's interesting that we are shy talking to strangers, even though doing so will not only make us happier, but it may enrich us ways we can't imagine.